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Monday, February 20, 2006

FOI delivers breaking news reports

While journalists and others have legitimate scope for criticism about the way our FOI laws operate, documents released under the FOI Act continue to provide stories for the major media. Today’s front page Sydney Morning Herald report that there has been a drain of good teachers from our most needy public schools is just one of a recent series of articles generated in whole or in part by FOI applications.

Today’s (Melbourne) Age story regarding a climate change report prepared for the Commonwealth Government but released with options and recommendations deleted, also states that the report was unsuccessfully sought under FOI late last year, but has now been released (with deletions) by the Government. In the last few weeks the Daily Telegraph has published FOI based reports on violence in schools and security problems in NSW rail system.

The Australian has had several stories out of documents obtained under FOI regarding faulty defence personnel clothing.

SBS television achieved a world scoop by airing last week previously supressed photos of incidents in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under FOI after a long and drawn out court battle.

Without the slightest irony, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News 'O'Reilly Factor' last week said that the photos had been shown by "some sleazy Australian television channel".

Our SBS sleazy? Coming from Fox News this might be a classic 'pot calling the kettle' accusation.

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